Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Life for cats throughout Steamboat Springs got a little easier Tuesday night, thanks to a change the City Council made in its municipal code.
The council voted to strike out a cat nuisance section, which states: "No person owning or keeping any domestic cat shall fail to prevent the cat from damaging the property of another."
No other animals are directly singled out in the municipal code as being nuisances.
Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner asked the council to take out the section, wondering if "someone had it out for cats" when the law was adopted.
"Either this was a joke or a mistake," Stettner said. "Should we have a law we can't enforce?"
City attorney Tony Lettunich said during his many years working with the municipal courts, he doesn't remember ever dealing with the cat nuisance section of the code, saying it hasn't been a problem. The rest of the council agreed with Stettner and voted to take the wording out.
"I am not aware of any maniacal cats out there damaging people's property," City Council President Kathy Connell said.
Stettner came across the section of the code while looking through proposed changes to the animal chapter of the municipal code. The city approved the changes Tuesday.
Councilman Bud Romberg took issue with the section of the code stating that before a summons or complaint can be filed against a barking dog, the reporting party must have a reasonable description of the dog and an adequate address or location of where the dog is.
He said it would be hard to comply with the law if it is at night, when it is hard to tell where the noise is coming from and what the dog looks like.
"There will never be any summons ever in my estimation and I can't support that," Romberg said.
The City Director of Public Safety Services J.D. Hays said all the animal control department is asking for is the reporting party to say what animal is making the noise and where the noise is approximately located.
"We don't need to know it was the black and white dog wearing pink shoes," Hays said.
Romberg made a motion to take the language out of the ordinance, but it failed for lack of a second.
The council passed the second reading of an ordinance amending its animal chapter of the municipal code. The changes increased fines and fees, added an amendment that would make it illegal to keep an unattended dog or cat in a hot vehicle and clarified what constituted a vicious or dangerous dog.
One of the biggest changes specified that owners cannot leave their dog or cat in a vehicle when it is 70 degrees or warmer outside, unless the animal control officer sees adequate ventilation and water.
The council also agreed to increase fines for animals running at large to $50 for the first offense, $75 for second convictions and to $100 for the third and subsequent offenses.
Adoption and licensing fees also increased. The adoption fee went from $15 to $25, and the licensing fee increased from $2 to $5; owners who have yet to spay or neutered their pets will pay $25.
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